two womans eating ice cream on the beach of australia

Few things ignite the summertime senses in Sydney like a healthy scoop of deliciously drippy ice cream. Filling you with more delight than your first beach swim of the season, there are literally thousands of ice cream parlors and gelaterias that call the city home…often within walking distance of the sea so you can rinse off afterwards. From the savory to the Asian-inspired to the outrageous concoctions so thick with sweet treats you might need a knife and fork to plough through it all, your guide to Sydney’s most indulgent summer snack starts here.

Gelato Messina

Shop 1/241 Victoria St, Darlinghurst

The granddaddy of ice cream in Sydney, Messina first opened its doors in Darlinghurst in 2002, sparking the city’s undying love affair with gelato ever since. With a cult 160,000+ Instagram following and 10 other stores across the city alone (including Bondi), Messina is showing no signs of losing the popularity contest. Expect 35 beloved flavors as well as punny weekly specials that seamlessly combine pop culture with insane flavor sensations, like ‘The Heisenberg’ (topped with crystalized violets) to ‘Bad Blood’ (with coconut gelato and berry coulis).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BN6U5o8DfnC/

Aqua S

Various locations

We have four magical words — sea salt soft serve. Yep, Aqua S is inspired by a culinary adventure through Okinawa, Japan, and the surprisingly savory take on soft serve ice cream is as tasty as it is pretty, coming in a rainbow range of pretty pastel swirls. The saltiness is then balanced by an array of sweet garnishes of your choosing, like fairy floss, sweet popcorn, popping candy or grilled marshmallow.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNgePzJA-cB/

RivaReno Gelato

280 Crown Street, Darlinghurst

Taking Sydney gelato to velvety-smooth new heights, this relative newcomer to the Sydney ice cream game sticks to a distinctly Sicilian approach to the summery snack. Using strict, authentic methods, RivaReno's gelato isn’t glamorosly displayed behind glass like most places, but is covered in stainless steel containers to maintain an optimal temperature and freshness of the pure, preservative-free ingredients. This is where to come for the real stuff.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKkYXr1DsU7/

Pompei’s

126-130 Roscoe St, Bondi Beach

Perhaps we’re swayed by the Bondi Beach location, but there’s something about Pompei’s that makes the gelato as much of a summer icon as the sandy stretch it overlooks. After gorging on the authentic Italian pizza that’s also served here, order yourself a sweet treat like the guava sorbet. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BCaBVVktesV/?tagged=pompeis

Cow and The Moon Artisan Gelato

181 Enmore Rd, Enmore

This inner-west hotspot may be subject to hectic crowds and lines out the door in summer, but for good reason. Having earned many an ice cream accolade, the big win was when Cow and The Moon took out the 2014 Gelato World Tour title in Italy for their addictive affogato flavor. But if caramelized almonds, Kenyan coffee and Madagascan vanilla doesn’t sound like your scoop of gelato, there are plenty of delicious alternatives. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BMc9rCHjzpP/

Passionflower

Capitol Square, 730-742 George St, Haymarket

Suitably situated in Sydney’s vibrant Chinatown district, Passionflower delivers a series of fantastical ice cream flavors using distinctly Asian ingredients like black sesame and sticky rice, to lychee rose and jackfruit. While this moreish slice of Asia comes at a price (expect to pay around the $10 mark for two scoops), it’s worth a once-off extravagance.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BELQVoNsEsn/